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Precautions When Buying a Used Car

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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For those on a motoring budget, a used car is often the best option when it comes to buying a car. However, there are certain precautions that you need to be aware of when buying a used car. It is dangerous to take the seller at face value, as he or she is likely to exaggerate or even lie about certain things to get a sale. This article offers advice on some of the things that you should be aware of when looking to buy a used car.

The Paperwork

Ask to see the V5 registration certificate early on in proceedings. A reputable seller should present this as a matter of principle. If they do not, it's not unreasonable to have some major doubts about the authenticity of the seller. Without a V5 registration certificate, you have no definite way of knowing that the car hasn't been stolen.

This is particularly important when buying a car through a private sale. If a certificate is present, check the details to make sure that the car is being sold by the person that it is registered to, and at the address at which you are viewing the car. The number plate of the used car should match the registration number on the V5 registration certificate, and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the registration certificate should match the VIN of the car. Lastly, check for a legitimate watermark on the certificate by holding it up to the light (as you do to check for the silver line on a banknote).

Check the MOT history paperwork for any discrepancies. If the mileage history does not tally with the MOT paperwork, it may have been 'clocked' (a scheme in which mileage is removed to up its 'value').

Vehicle and Service History

It is worth getting a full service and ownership history for a used car if you suspect that the seller is not being completely honest with you. Even if you trust the seller, it is still advisable. You will have to pay for this, but the piece of mind is worth the added cost. You may also want to think about hiring a mechanic to look over the service and vehicle ownership history for you as an added precaution, and give the car a full once-over.

Other Things to Check

It is unwise to trust the seller to tell you the full story. Before you buy, take a moment to have a look at the following: the condition of the bodywork, the oil and fluid levels, the number plates (make sure that they are valid number plates), and the engine (make sure that it sounds healthy when started up, and that it quickly settles into a good rhythm).

A used car is often the most cost-effective option when buying a car, especially if you are on a motoring budget. However, you need to be aware of possible half-truths (and lies) on the part of the seller in a bid to secure the sale.

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